INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana General Assembly has more work to do at the Statehouse, with Gov. Eric Holcomb calling the legislature back for a special session on July 25.
Lawmakers are expected to take up the governor’s plan to distribute $225 payments to Indiana taxpayers as part of a proposal to help Hoosiers with gas prices and inflation.
Holcomb also said he expected the General Assembly to address the Supreme Court ruling overturning the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion.
Before lawmakers return for the special session, however, several new laws will take effect on Friday, July 1.
Here’s a look at 15 of them.
House Bill 1296 repeals the law requiring people to get a license to carry a handgun in Indiana. That means people don’t have to get a license or permit from the state as long as they’re allowed to have a handgun.
There is a lengthy list of people who aren’t allowed to carry handguns, including those convicted of federal or state offenses punishable by more than one year, with some exceptions. Other restrictions include people under the age of 18, those unlawfully in the U.S., fugitives from justice and people convicted of domestic violence, domestic battery or criminal stalking, among others.
People who want to get a permit can still obtain one. Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter opposed the law, arguing it could make it difficult for police to determine if someone is lawfully carrying a gun.
New tax on vaping products
Vaping products will be subject to a new 15% retail tax on July 1.
Originally, lawmakers planned to impose a 25% tax on e-cigarette cartridges. However, legislators lowered the tax to 15% during the 2022 session. The change was to make sure cartridges were taxed at the same rate as other vaping products, according to State Sen. Travis Holdman, the bill’s author.
The legislature could decide next year if the tax for all products should be increased.
Charitable bail changes
A new law will allow charitable organizations to pay bail for an indigent individual as long as they’re not charged with a violent crime or the individual doesn’t have a prior conviction for a violent crime. The law forbids organizations from bailing out more than three people in a 180-day period without a license.
The law was widely considered to be aimed at The Bail Project, which worked with the ACLU of Indiana to file a legal challenge against it. A federal judge denied The Bail Project’s request for a preliminary injunction in a June 29 ruling.
Transgender athletes in sports
A measure banning transgender females from competing in girls’ school sports will go into effect despite a veto from the governor.
Holcomb vetoed the measure passed in the General Assembly during the 2022 session. However, both chambers overrode his veto in May.
Opponents of the measure argued it’s unnecessary. Holcomb had said it didn’t provide a consistent policy for “fairness in K-12 sports.”
The ACLU of Indiana has filed a lawsuit against the measure.
Rape loophole closed
Lawmakers closed a loophole in the state’s rape law, changing its definition for the first time since the 19th century.
The law now includes situations when “the person disregarded the other person’s attempts to physically, verbally, or by other visible conduct refuse the person’s acts.”
The change was meant to bring Indiana’s law in line with other states and help survivors of sexual assault seek justice.
House Bill 1004 reverses a 2014 move that sent low-level felons to county jails to serve their sentences. The original measure succeeded in reducing the population at state facilities. However, it overwhelmed county jails and led to overcrowding.
As of July 1, any offender sentenced to a Level 6 felony will once again be eligible for incarceration at a state facility.
County sheriffs believe the change will reduce the populations at county jails and keep costs down.
School board meetings
House Bill 1130 requires school boards to accept oral public comment at each meeting and allows them to set time limits on comment periods.
The bill is an outgrowth of contentious meetings that led some school boards to temporarily suspend public comment. The measure allows boards to take measures necessary to maintain orderly meetings, including removing anyone who is being intentionally disruptive.
It also allows school boards to meet virtually under certain circumstances.
Tax credits for filmmakers
Senate Bill 361 includes tax credits for movie and TV productions.
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) would be in charge of approving the incentives, which would give production companies a financial break if they film in Indiana and hire Hoosiers.
Advocates believe tax credits could help advance the film industry in Indiana.
Tax cuts for Hoosiers
Lawmakers approved tax cuts for Hoosiers. The measure reduces the state’s income tax and eliminates the utility receipts tax.
For the income tax, the state will take a phased approach that would reduce the income tax rate from 3.23% to 2.9% by 2029. For a Hoosier who makes $50,000 annually, the full tax cut would equal about $165 a year.
The state must meet certain financial conditions for revenue growth and teacher pension debt before lowering the income tax rate.
The utility receipts tax is 1.4%, and savings will vary widely for homeowners and businesses. While homeowners will save a few dollars a month, businesses could see a significant impact—maybe even thousands of dollars.
Lawmakers took action to combat the state’s nurse shortage by easing some licensing qualifications.
The law establishes temporary licensing standards for retired or inactive emergency medical services personnel, retired or inactive health care professionals, out-of-state health care professionals, or recently graduated students who have applied for certain licenses.
It also provides for graduates of foreign nursing schools with certain documentation to serve as a registered or practical nurse with approval from the state board of nursing.
Standards for e-learning days and remote instruction will change for public and charter schools in a bill influenced by the rise of virtual instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic.
House Bill 1093, an education bill, defines “virtual student instruction days” (e-learning) and their requirements. The law mandates that public schools can conduct no more than three e-learning days that don’t meet the state’s requirements.
Virtual instruction days that don’t fall under state criteria don’t count toward the mandated 180-day school year. However, the state can waive the requirements if the virtual instruction days were conducted because of “extraordinary circumstances.”
Like many states, Indiana approved changes ostensibly designed to secure elections. The changes were an outgrowth of dubious claims of a stolen presidential election in 2020.
House Bill 1116 mandates that counties must provide a verifiable paper audit trail for electronic voting systems by July 1, 2024. The original deadline had been Dec. 31, 2029.
It also tightens requirements for absentee voting, requiring the applicant to provide a driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number in order to apply electronically.
While additional abortion-related laws are expected during the July 25 special session, lawmakers approved a measure on coerced abortion during the 2022 session.
The law requires personnel at an abortion clinic to ask a pregnant individual if their abortion was coerced and requires clinics to inform patients that coerced abortion is illegal. If informed of a coerced abortion, the clinic must contact law enforcement so that an investigation can begin.
The law makes it a Level 6 felony to coerce someone into an abortion and a Class C infraction for a facility that fails to report the coerced abortion.
EV charging access
The General Assembly approved a measure designed to expand charging access for electric vehicles (EVs) and set pricing.
The measure allows businesses to make EV charging equipment available for public use and charge for the service by kilowatt hour and/or the amount of time spent in a charging space.
The measure authorizes the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to determine price structures. The IURC can also approve public use pilot programs for electric vehicle services, such as electric buses that primarily serve the public.
Data breach notification
House Bill 1351 is a response to data breaches.
The law requires data breaches to be disclosed or notification made within 45 days of the breach’s discovery.
The law allows some “reasonable” delays in disclosure, such as more time to understand the scope of the breach or restoration of computer system integrity. Delays are also allowed if the breach could jeopardize a civil or criminal investigations or pose a risk to national security.